A is for Aden and Z is for Zanzabar

A is for Aden and Z is for Zanzibar... Now what is between? For the world wide classical era philatelist and stamp collector, a country specific philatelic survey is offered with two albums: Big Blue, aka Scott International Part 1 (checklists available), and Deep Blue, aka William Steiner's Stamp Album Web PDF pages. Interested? So into the Blues...

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Oltre Giuba

1925 Scott 4 10c claret, Overprinted
"Victor Emmanuel III"
Quick History
Oltre Giuba ( Greater Juba, Trans-Juba, Italian Jubaland) is a strip 50-100 miles wide west and parallel to the Juba River in East Africa that was ceded to Italy in 1925 by the British. This northern portion of the Jubaland territory was a former part of the British East Africa (then East Africa & Uganda Protectorates, then Kenya) colony. One may ask "why", and supposedly it was a reward to Italy for having joined the allies in WW I.

1926  Map of Oltre Giuba on Stamp
As "Oltre Giuba" was on the western edge of already established Italian Somaliland (Somalia, Benadir), it was absorbed into the older colony on July 1, 1926.

The Fascist Italian Government then combined Italian Eritrea, the Ethiopian Empire, and Italian Somaliland into Italian East Africa (1936-41). After WW II, Italian Somaliland became the Trust Territory of Somalia in 1949, and finally achieved independence in 1960.

The little strip of Oltre Giuba (Capital Kismayu, population 12,000) had stamp production from July 29, 1925- June 1, 1926. Let's take a look....

1926 Scott 34 1l blue 
"Map of Oltre Giuba"
Into the Deep Blue
The 2011 Scott Classic 1840-1940 catalogue has, for Oltre Giuba 1925-1925, 66 major descriptive numbers. Of those, 15 ( 23%) are CV $1+.  As is usual for Italian colonies, the stamps for Oltre Giuba are moderately expensive.

A closer look at the stamps and issues
100 Centesimi = 1 Lira
1925 Scott 2 2c yellow brown, Overprinted
"Coat of Arms"
The initial July 29, 1925 fifteen stamp issue consisted of Italian stamps of 1901-26 overprinted "Oltre Giuba" as shown.

1925 Scott 3 5c green, Overprinted
"Victor Emmanuel III"
As one would expect for a rather remote short lived colony, genuine used is less common than unused in collections- and generally more expensive.

1925 Scott 6 20c brown orange, Overprinted
"Victor Emmanuel III"
Eleven of the stamps in the fifteen stamp issue have a CV of $2+-$5+. There was also five additional stamps issued in 1925-26: the last three ( Scott 18-20) have CVs of $40-$80. For those using the Big Blue album, be aware that these expensive stamps are included with spaces. 

1925 Scott 22a 1L dark blue
Italian Stamps of 1925, Overprinted
"Victor Emmanuel"
In 1925-26, the 1925 Italian "Victor Emmanuel Issue'" was overprinted on three stamps. CV ranges from $1+-$3+.

1926 Scott 31 25c olive brown
"Map of Oltre Giuba"
The only issue that features "Oltre Giuba" specifically was produced on April 26, 1926. It consists of a seven stamp set, and shows a map of the colony. The CV is a modest $1.

1926 Scott B3 20c + 5c blue green
"Peace", Substituting Spade for Sword
The omnibus "Colonial Institute Issue" was produced on June 1, 1926. These six semi-postals are CV $1 each.

There were also issued overprinted Italian stamps of Special Delivery, Postage Due, and Parcel Post  (Total = 25). They are fairly expensive (CV $10+-$100+), and I don't have any.

On July 1, 1926, Otre Giuba was absorbed into Italian Somaliland, and stamp production for the small colony ceased.

Deep Blue
1926 Map Issue in Deep Blue
Deep Blue (Steiner) has five pages for Oltre Giuba, and includes a space for all the major Scott numbers.

1926 Scott B4 40c + 5c brown red
"Peace", Substituting Spade for Sword
Big Blue
The '69 edition has one page for Oltre Giuba and 35 spaces. Coverage is a fairly generous 53%, considering the moderately expensive cost for these stamps.

The country in the '69 Big Blue is located between Nyassa and Orange River Colony.

In the '47, the country is  between the Nyasaland Protectorate - Obock page, and the Oldenburg -Palestine page.

In the 40s editions is another 2/3 of a page with 6 parcel post (CV $20+-$30), 6 postage due ( CV $10+), and 2 special delivery (CV $20+, $50) spaces, for a total of 14 more spaces. Generally, I'm not happy when BB drops spaces, but these stamps are quite expensive. ;-) I will include these stamp spaces and catalogue numbers in the checklist for those that would like to collect them.

But, still included in the '69 stamp spaces is Scott 18, 19, 20 , for CV $40, $57, and $80 respectively. !!!


9, (10),21,22,16,17,


To be found
In 40s Editions...

Parcel Post

Postage Due

Special Delivery

A) Expensive stamps ($10 threshold):
1925 Scott 18 75c dark red & rose ($40)
1925 Scott 19 1.25 l blue & ultramarine ($57+)
1925 Scott 20 2.50 l dark green & orange ($80)
Note: the fourteen 40s edition stamps that were dropped in the '69 have a CV between $10+- $50.
B) (    ) around a space indicates a blank space choice.

1925 Scott 1 1c brown, Overprinted
"Coat of Arms"
Out of the Blue
I've never quite warmed up to Italian colony stamps. Generally, they are  unused, and many of them merely consist of overprinted Italian stamps. They seem "artificial", intended primarily to extract money from collectors. (But, one can argue that is true for many/ most of the world's colonies. ;-)

And a large portion of Italian colony stamps tend to be expensive.

But little "Oltre Giuba" is interesting enough. And, if one wants to feel a bit superior, ask your non-philatelic friends where "Oltre Giuba" was located.

Note: Oops, I missed Oldenburg, a German Grand Duchy! That post will be put at the end of the current queue, and published in several months.


Thursday, October 23, 2014

A Fournier Surprise- Brazil 1889 Postage Due

Brazil 1889 Scott J3 50r carmine
Francois Fournier Forgery
Into the Deep Blue
It began innocently enough. A prominent dealer (who will remain anonymous) had the 1889 Postage Due set available. I needed most of the stamps, and they were on my want list, as they had spaces in Big Blue.

Moreover, he was offering a discount on Brazil for the month.

I've had business with the dealer before, and have been happy with the results. He has the less common material in stock - which is most welcome after one has exhausted the usual sources.

So off went my order, and soon I had the set in hand- Scott J1-J9.

Several of the stamps, though, had a darker color tint, and seemed a tad "rough" in appearance.

Reading the fine print in the Scott yielded the helpful- and at the same time- unhelpful statement....

"Counterfeits are Common"

I had the vague recollection I've seen something about this Brazil set before- and Yikes!.. opening the Varro Tyler "Focus on Forgeries" book (copyright 2000) to page 47 showed the 1889 100 reis postage due Scott J4 forgery and genuine illustrations!

Luckily, I already had a 100 reis in my collection that I had vetted previously, and so I compared it to the rough newcomer...

1889 Scott J4 100r carmine
Genuine; Forgery
The salient differences are (click and enlarge image for detail)...
* Black arrow: The triangular area above "B" of "Brazil" shows two white dots and three white lines in the genuine, but only two white dots in the forgery.
* Red arrow: The "00" (zeros) are closed at the top and bottom of the genuine, but open in the forgery.
* Green arrow: The "Taxa" and "Devida" script appears rougher and more smudged in the forgery. The "D" and "A" in the forgery are close to touching each other.
* Blue arrow: The lattice work architecture around the frame is more incomplete and rougher in the forgery.

There are other differences as well if one wishes to look further.

Note the colors appear the same. So, although, I found a darker tint in several of the suspicious stamps, it is not a universal finding.

O.K., but can I extrapolate the results for the 100r to the other denominations? Tyler says nothing about the universality of the 100r signs. 

And who made the forgery?

Francois Fournier 1846-1917
Geneva, Switzerland
Surprisingly, this rather bland and unassuming Brazil 1889 postage due set was forged by none other than Francois Fournier. 

He saw himself as a champion of the "little man"- who could then own a beautiful and rare stamp at a fraction of the price of a genuine specimen. He rejected the pejorative "forger": rather, he was quite proud of his "art objects". His 1914 price catalogue listed 3,671 forgeries (not all produced by himself).

After he died, the Geneva Museum of History acquired his stock (thereby preventing some 800 pounds of forgeries from entering the philatelic marketplace). Representative examples were mounted in 480 special albums, and sold to interested parties for $25 apiece in 1928.

These Fournier albums are still floating around the philatelic landscape, and one can do an internet search and see visual examples of his forgery work.

So in short time, I found this image....

Fournier strip of Brazil 1889 Postage Dues
Nice enough, but there is a problem. There doesn't appear to be any images on the 'net with a resolution that would enable one to compare genuine and forgery stamps. !

How could I prove that the other dodgy stamps- a 50r, a 200r, and a 300r, were Fournier forgeries?

That is when I noticed an illustration in the Fournier album of a forgery cancellation frequently associated with the forgery cancelled stamps...

Fournier Forgery Cancellation
Placing the stamps around so the cancel aligned like so...

Forgery cancellation demonstrated
No doubt! The forgery cancellation aligns perfectly! Q.E.D.

I informed my dealer of the findings, and he graciously looked through his stock, and sent me genuine copies. He was unaware that Fournier had forged this particular set - perhaps surprising, perhaps not, if the forgeries do not appear very often.

So what do the other forged denominations look like compared to genuines?....

1889 Scott J3 50r carmine
Genuine; Fournier Forgery
The 50r has the same forgery flaws found as the previously outlined 100r. Note the darker color of the forgery here.

1889 Scott J5 200r carmine
Genuine; Fournier Forgery
The two white dots in the triangle above the "B" of "Brazil", the open "0", the rough "Taxa" and "Devida" script, and the cruder lattice architecture around the frame, are all found with the forgery. Note the darker color of the forgery.

1889 J6 300r carmine
Genuine; Fournier Forgery
The same findings are found for the 300r carmine forgery. Again, in this example, the forgery is also darker.

I think it is reasonable to conclude, based on these examples, that the Fournier forgery has similar characteristics for all the nine stamps in the set.

1889 Scott J7 500r carmine
Out of the Blue
Out of the blue, an interesting development indeed! And I learned a few things. I hope you did too. (Perhaps you want to check your collection ;-) 

Note: Images from Fournier album and Fournier pic appear to be in the public domain.

Comments appreciated!

Friday, October 17, 2014


1892 Scott 23 2c on 15c blue 
Stamps of French Colonies
 Handstamped with additional Surcharge
Quick History
Obock was a French seaport on the Gulf of Aden in eastern Africa, and across from the British port of Aden. It was the first French settlement (colony) in the region through a treaty with the local Afar Sultans in 1862. These agreements were strengthened between 1883 and 1887.

Obock, 1896
All of the lands north of the Gulf of Tadjoura were known as Obock. By 1885, there were 800 inhabitants in Obock. 

The reason for the settlement? The French wanted their own coaling station for steamships (the Suez Canal had opened in 1869), as they did not want to rely solely on the British Aden coaling station.

Stamps were issued beginning in 1892, and consisted of French Colonies stamps that were handstamped "Obock". Stamp issues continued until 1894.

Djibouti, Obock, and the Somali Coast (French Somaliland), 1922
Then the port of Djibouti on the south side of the Gulf of Tadjoura was established in 1888, and provided a safer haven. The French protectorate- "Cote francaise des Somalis" (French Somaliland) was established in Djibouti in 1894, and the administrative capital was moved from Obock. The port of Obock was included in the new French Somaliland, and began to use the stamps of the "Somali Coast" in 1901.

The population subsequently declined to about 500 in 1911. So ends the glory days of Obock.

1892 Scott 36 10c black/lavender
"Navigation and Commerce"
Into the Deep Blue
The 2011 Scott Classic 1840-1940 catalogue has, for Obock 1892-1894, 83 major descriptive numbers for the regular and postage due categories. Of those, only 5 (6%) are CV $1+. If one raises the CV bar to $20, then 35 ( 42%) qualify. Clearly, Obock's stamps are fairly expensive.

A closer look at the stamps and issues
100 Centimes = 1 Franc
1892 Scott 4 5c green/greenish 
Stamps of French Colonies
Handstamped in Black
The initial eleven stamp issue in 1892 consisted of the stamps of the French Colonies handstamped in black as shown. Four stamps have a CV of $20+.

1892 Scott 12 4c claret/lavender
Stamps of French Colonies
Handstamped in Black
There was another handstamped issue of nine stamps produced in 1892 as illustrated here. Note the "Obock" postmark. Five stamps are CV $10+.

1892 Scott 21 1c on 25c black/rose
Stamps of French Colonies
 Handstamped with additional Red Surcharge
Four of the preceding 1892 handstamped stamps were surcharged in various denominations and colors (red, blue, or black) to provide an additional eleven stamp issue in 1892.

1892 Scott 24 4c on 15c blue
Stamps of French Colonies
 Handstamped with additional Black Surcharge
The surcharged issue has a CV of $10+ for five stamps.

1892 Scott 40 30c brown/bister
"Navigation and Commerce"
1892 was a very productive year for Obock (stamp wise), as the fourth issue consisted of the familiar "Navigation and Commerce" stamps. "Obock" was printed on the stamps in red or blue, and the thirteen stamp set has a CV of $1+-$3+ for five stamps.

1894 Scott 53 25c black & blue "Somali Warriors"
A 1894 issue of 18 stamps- 13 with the "Somali Warriors" design (shown above), 5 with the triangular "Camel Scene" design ( not shown)- is interesting indeed. It is imperforate with "fake" perforations. ;-)

1894 "Somali Warriors" Issue
Quadrille Lines printed on Paper
The back of the stamps have quadrille lines. Twelve of the stamps in the issue have a CV ranging from $1+-$9

BTW, there were three surcharges produced in 1902, but they are listed with the stamps of the Somali Coast..

Deep Blue
1892 Handstamped & Surcharged Issue in Deep Blue
Deep Blue (Steiner) has five pages for Obock. and includes a space for every Scott major number.

1892 Scott 15 15c blue
Stamps of French Colonies
Handstamped in Black
Big Blue
Big Blue '69, on two lines of one page, has 12 spaces for the stamps of Obock. Coverage is 15%. Considering the expensive nature of Obock stamps, the limited coverage is probably justifiable.

Obock in Big Blue
The Obock section shares a page with  "Nyassa" and "Prussia" in the '69 edition. The earlier 40s editions have Obock on the last page of the "Nyasaland Protectorate" section. The coverage appears to be the same for all editions.

Of note, "Obock" is not included in the Table of Countries in the '69 edition.

The coverage includes three spaces for the 1892 handstamped French Colonies stamps: the type illustrated and heading the "Big Blue" section above. All three of these stamps are CV $10+.


12,13,(14), 32,33,34,35,(36),



A) Expensive stamps ($10 threshold):
1892 Scott 12 4c claret/lavender ($10+)
1892 Scott 13 5c green/greenish ($10+)
1892 Scott (14) 10c black/lavender ($10+)
B) (    ) around a number indicates a blank space choice.

1892 Scott 43 75c violet/orange
"Navigation and Commerce"
Out of the Blue
The little town of Obock now has about 20,000 population, a  blip on the world scene. But in the philatelic sphere, it will be remembered and even cherished.

Note: Maps appear to be in the public domain.

Have a comment?
Obock Today

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Albania- a closer look at the stamp issues

1913 Scott 37 10q rose red 
"Skanderbeg (George Castriota)"
Into the Deep Blue
The 2011 Scott Classic Specialized catalogue has, for Albania 1913-1940, 301 regular, 8 semi-postal, 53 air post, 2 special delivery, and 39 postage due descriptions. Total = 403. Of those, the stamps that were issued prior to 1922, none are as low as CV$1+; while after 1922, 99 are CV <$1-$1+. Total = 25%. Albania is fairly expensive for the early issues, and a number of issues are marred by counterfeits.

A closer look at the stamps and issues
40 Paras = 1 Piaster = 1 Grossion
100 Centimes = 1 Franc (1917)
100 Qintar = 1 Franc
1913 Scott 24 2gr blue & violet 
Scott has, from 1863-1883, a listing of Austrian Post in Albania (353 descriptive numbers!), which used stamps of Austrian Offices in the Turkish Empire, or Lombardy-Venetia stamps. All are expensive, and a specialist's delight. I will say no more about them.

Above is an interesting issue from 1914 which used a typewriter! to put in the value. I have no idea if it is genuine or not: I suspect the latter. One of the realities of WW classical collecting, even if one has a library of books on forgeries, is that the knowledge is often superficial and spread out, not deep. ;-)

1913 Scott 35 2q orange brown & buff
"Skanderbeg (George Castriota)"
A six stamp nicely typographed issue was produced in 1913.

A 15th century Albanian nobleman, George Kastrioti Skanderbeg was highly effective in organizing Christian resistance against the Ottoman expansion. He is Albania's most important national hero.

1914 Scott 50 1gr on 25g dark blue,
Surcharged in Black
The 1913 issue was surcharged in 1914: this time in Paras and Grossion. CV is $2+-$4 for five stamps.

1917 Scott 59 25c blue & black "Double Headed Eagle"
In 1917, and 1917-18, an 8 stamp and a 7 stamp issue was produced respectively with different script on the side panels. The design was basically as shown, and a 1917 stamp issue is illustrated. CV is $2+-$10+.

But this stamp is a forgery, as are most stamps in general collections. ;-)

A genuine stamp will not be so cleanly impressed, with small ink spots scattered around the eagle, and the wing tips will be attenuated or broken.

1 Frank green "Prince Zu Weid"
1914 (A14 Type)
Illustrating the chaotic Albania of 1914, the prepared but never issued original seven stamp set of Prince Zu Weid ( A14, and also the A15 issue) was probably stolen during WW I, and put on the philatelic market. They are not listed in the Scott catalogue. The overprinted or surcharged Type A14 and A15 stamps were finally issued in 1920.

1921 Mirditi Issues 10 Quintar "Coat of Arms"
Never authorized, but in every collection
The familiar to anyone that opens an Albanian stamp collection, the 1921 "Mirditi Issues"- five regular, one surcharged "25 Qint", and five postage dues overprinted "Taske", were unauthorized, and consequently have no Scott number.

1923 Scott 152 1fr dark violet "Korcha"
 A seven stamp issue with Albanian geographic scenes was produced in 1923.

Korca today
A town of about 100,000 now, Korca lies in southeastern Albania on a 2800 ft plateau.

1924 Scott 158 2q red orange
"Opening of the Constituent Assembly"
 Five of the preceding stamps were overprinted as shown in 1924. CV is a robust $10+-$20. "Counterfeits are plentiful".

1925 Scott 175 25q dark blue "Bridge at Vezirit"
"Proclamation of the Republic"
Seven stamps were overprinted in 1925 with another change in government structure. The Vizier's Bridge crosses the Drin valley near Kukes. I suspect this wonderful old bridge is now inundated by a hydroelectric dam.

1925 Scott 187 2g red brown 
"President Ahmed Zogu"
The President appeared on an eleven stamp issue produced in 1925. CV ranges from <$1-$6+.

1927 Scott 205 2fr green & orange , black overprint
An eleven stamp issue was produced by overprinting in various colors the preceding 1925 issue --Unclear, the reason, but perhaps it had to do with the next event in the president's life.

1928 Scott 233 50q lilac rose "King Zog"
"Kingdom of Albania"
Yes, the President became King in 1928 with a change to a monarchy by constitutional amendment. Wouldn't you rather be a king too? ;-)

1939 Scott 300 2g orange red, overprinted 
Issued under Italian Dominion
Unfortunately, the Italians spoiled the party by invading on April 7, 1939. King Zog left, but did not abdicate. The King of Italy, Victor Emmanuel III, - all 5 feet 0 inches of him - acquired the crown.

So what happened to King Zog? After WW II, he was reinstated as King- but never returned, and the country became a socialist's People's Republic in 1946.

Deep Blue
1922 Postage Dues in Deep Blue
Deep Blue (Steiner) has 35 pages for Albania, and provides spaces for all Scott major numbers. In addition, Deep Blue has spaces for all the common -but Scott numberless- issues (1921 Mirditi stamps etc) that populate most Albanian collections- thank goodness.

Air Post 1938 Scott C4 50q dark green
"Airplane crossing Mountains"
Out of the Blue
I am attracted to the stamps of Albania, but the counterfeits sour the enthusiasm.

Note: Pic appears to be in the public domain.

Note: This "Into the Deep Blue" blog post and stamp images have been added to the original Albania post.

Have a comment?